The Cost of Unhappiness?

I once encountered a professional acquaintance after not seeing her for several months.  Following the standard “hi-how-are-you” exchange, she told me she would soon be turning 65, but can’t afford to retire.  She went on to state that she married a man who likes to spend, not save, money.  She said she probably should have left him a long time ago….

…Wow, is she really telling me this?  Why is she telling me this?  She has no idea how I feel about this sort of thing… she’s not prepared for what I have to say….I don’t know her well enough to say what I have to say…. I need to be quiet.

I kept my mouth shut and listened as she vocalized her self-consolation, “Well, at least the kids still have one house to come home to.”

I refused to offer validation.  Instead, I took the opportunity to steer the conversation back to where it originated.  How could it have gone so far in the past few seconds? “At least you’re still able to work,” I told her.

“Yes,” she agreed, forcing a smile.  “Look at the bright side.”

I left the meeting feeling heavy and sad.  Did she mean that?  I can’t believe she said that to someone she barely knows!  How long has she been unhappy?  She could’ve taken action a long time ago and changed everything… why?  …why?  Why…?

I don’t expect I’ll ever receive those answers.  The woman will need to live with the choices she has made and conduct herself accordingly.  I just hope that when she chose to remain married, she considered more than the number of residences her children will be obligated to visit during the holidays.

There are many professional resources out there (not to mention the free support offered by true friends) dedicated to helping individuals survive and thrive after a divorce.  Why not give them a google?

Is a bad marriage worth forfeiting retirement?

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  1. When I was privately considering divorce, I sat in a board meeting for a non-profit I served on. I listened to one of my fellow directors share with the Board that she was getting divorced. She was the breadwinner and she said she figured if she was going to have to support her husband for the rest of her life, then she might as well be happy. Her perspective enabled me to look at the division of assets in a way I hadn’t previously and removed a huge obstacle for me.

    I think many of us stay in marriages longer than we should because we’re waiting for the big event that means we won’t have to be the bad guy asking for divorce. Trouble is, that event may never happen.

    • Regarding your bad guy comment: My ex-husband is a good guy, he just wasn’t the right guy for me. I recognized this and got divorced after only five years of marriage. I could not live my life like I imaging the woman in this story has – dreaming about what life would be like if I chose me over my unhappy marriage… In the year it took me to get the words “I think we should get a divorce” out of my mouth, I actually wished my ex would just cheat on me. Really! I wanted him to be so done with our non-existent sex life, marriage counseling and constant disappointment that he would just go sleep with someone else so I could say, “well, I forgive you, but I want out,” and he could be “the bad guy.” It didn’t happen. (Nor did I ever think it would – he really is a good guy!) I finally accepted that I was going to have to be the bad guy if I was going to have the life I wanted. And now, we both have me to thank for our wonderful, still connected -yet totally separate – lives as single parents in fantastic relationships with awesome people!

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